Meet a Tauranga student who sees surfing as an important part of striving for a career in medicine.


Studying smarter was just one of the tools Ruby McSweeney used to achieve seven A* grades in her Cambridge IGCSEs. Her techniques have worked so well, she asked her teacher to support her to show her school’s younger pupils her methods.

Ruby’s a Year 12 student at ACG Tauranga. She’s working hard towards studying medicine at university and ultimately becoming a surgeon – and she’s also a keen surfer.

The Cambridge IGCSE is the most popular international qualification in the world for 14- to 16-year-olds, and is taught at ACG Tauranga as an alternative to NCEA. The exams are taken in Year 11. Ruby scored over 90 percent in her six IGCSEs (graded as A*) in Year 11, and did the same when she sat Spanish a year early, in Year 10.

The eldest of four siblings who are all at school alongside her, Ruby joined ACG in Year 8 when the school opened in 2015, and is now deputy head prefect. She says the traits she admires in others include, “determination, never giving up, and not worrying about what others think of them. I like the healthy competition at school and that the teachers are always keen to help me with things I don’t understand. They’re approachable and easy to talk to.”

ACG encourages its students to develop skills to make them happier adults and the world a better place. “Every Tuesday lunchtime, three of us prefects read to the preschoolers,” says Ruby. “It came about after we presented a huge basket of books to the ECG [Early Childhood Education] centre. Getting to know the youngest children in our school has become one of my favourite times of the week.”

Ruby and her three classmates who took IGCSE Spanish in Year 10 (and all achieved an A*) have also been helping coach students in the Spanish class a year below them. “Our Spanish teacher set up some coaching so we could help the year below us,” says Ruby. “She set aside time for us all to work together and organised some food. We showed the class the methods we’d used, and gave them tips on how to get the most out of study time. We also explained how physical exercise is vital to success. That’s why I go out surfing; social media’s best avoided as it makes study breaks go too quickly.”

Outside her academic and leadership responsibilities, Ruby’s a talented surf lifesaver who recently placed in the top three in events at the surf lifesaving nationals. At school, she enjoys running, swimming, netball and futsal (indoor football). She’s planning to focus her studies on the sciences next year and says, “I’m interested in orthopaedics, neurology or oncology, but I’m keeping an open mind about the future.”